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Larry's tips on productivity and wellbeing while working remotely

Let me introduce you to Larry. He has been an instrumental part of our business for over 15 years and we consider him very much part of the automaton family. Currently as our Development Manager, Larry manages our development team which involves scheduling tasks and priorities, supporting the team when they hit roadblocks, and managing the process from requirements to delivery.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a few weeks ago our development team like many teams across Australia transitioned to working remotely. Managing a remote team, Larry realised he needed to support them in a very different way from usual. Many of his team members have never worked at home in isolation and so are accustomed to the social side of working in an office with colleagues. Their normal routine consists of daily stand up meetings, a 3pm hacky sack to get the team off their screens and moving around, and other general intermingling as they collaborate on projects.

Work remotelyOver the years, Larry has had the opportunity to work flexible hours at automaton. In fact, for the first six months of working here he worked mostly from home. This experience puts him in a great position to support his team as we move through to the next phase on Covid-19. I saw Larry?s tips for supporting his remote team in an email and I thought it would be helpful to share these during this difficult time. We hope you find them useful for managing your own remote team.

 Larry?s tips to support productivity and mental wellbeing while working from home

1. Build structure into your day.  
Getting up, showering, attiring, etc. send signals to the brain that you are awake and ready for action. After a while, without those triggers, the brain doesn't know if it is sleep time, work time or play time. So, make sure you get into a routine of getting up at the same time in the morning and plan to get to your home desk at a set time too. At the end of your workday, devise a ritual for yourself that marks the end of the working day. It could be as simple as just closing your laptop or walking outside to get a little sun. It just needs to be something consistent that triggers your brain to understand that "we have left work now".

2. Try to have a dedicated space during work hours.  
Having a space in your home that is set up for work during work hours is really important. If you have a room that you can close the door on at the end of the day - great! If you?re working at the kitchen table, pack away your work stuff when you finish. I can?t stress enough how important it is to leave the office, otherwise you feel like you're living at work as opposed to working from home.

3. Open the curtains or blinds.  
Casinos have no windows because they want you to lose track of time. Light is an important trigger for us as it signifies different times of the day. It also makes you feel uplifted just being able to see sunlight. Be sure to open the curtains or blinds and, if possible, a window to let some air in too.

4. Try to avoid working on your couch or with the TV on
Just like having a dedicated space for work is a good thing, working on the couch or with the TV on isn?t so productive or good for your wellbeing. If the TV is tempting and the couch is relaxing, the work feels much harder to do. Besides, couches are not ergonomically designed for doing work and you could end up with a bad back!

5. Contact with people is really important.
If you just need to communicate a quick message to other team members, email and Slack are great. But if you are working through an issue together, it?s much more productive to pick up the phone. If you are calling another person to sort out an issue, try using FaceTime or video chat so you can see each other. Seeing other people?s faces can help with the isolation you might be feeling and seeing people's facial expressions can convey more details about what they are saying. And the odd cat walking across screen is always a welcome relief!

6. Keep up the chit chat.  
Always leave some time at the start or end of a meeting call for some chit chat. It really helps with having some human connection and breaks up the monotony of work and isolation.

7. Make time to go outside.  
Mark out some dedicated time in your day to go outside if you can. Lunch in your garden or on the balcony, or a walk around the block can be just enough to clear your head for a bit and allow you to get some fresh air.

8. Have fun! 
Keep posting memes or enjoy some banter in Slack. Crank up your favourite music if no one is around to stop you. Try and enjoy this time where you have a little more freedom and control over your workday.

9. Some final advice from Larry
In general, but particularly in our current situation, please be sure to reach out to someone if you are feeling isolated or struggling in general. I can't think of anyone in the business that would turn away that conversation or judge you for it. I wouldn't. You also have friends and family available to you as well as organisations such as Beyond Blue, Sane, etc. Just make sure that if you are feeling low you talk to someone.

Stay safe and take care.